The Big Dance is happening, and while streaming the games is great when you’re on the go, there’s just something about planting yourself on the couch in front of a flat screen and catching your favorite teams going head to head for a shot at the title of national champion.
So, in the spirit of the season, I’m pitting ten top TVs against each other for a shot at a different honor — being the best flat screen TV on your wall.
For the living room warrior
Key strengths: Ambient room light adjustment as the games go (and the day goes) on. Top rated flat screen TV (5 stars!)
Key strengths: 1″ larger screen size. Wi-Fi and apps for additional content after March. Magic Remote for cooler control. Picture Wizard II for improved picture quality.
Shared assets: 120Hz Motionflow for better viewing of fast action.
The Breakdown: While the LG may seem to have more strengths, not as many of them are directly beneficial to watching the games. The Magic Remote is cool, but when the only buttons you’ll be using are the volume (rarely) and channel switch buttons (often), a standard remote might be your best friend. While a 1″ larger screen is tempting, and the Picture Wizard II can do a lot of good, the ambient room light adjustment that keeps the picture looking good as the days go on, and a large fanbase, give the 46EX500 the edge in this matchup.
Best flat screen TV Decision: Sony 46EX500
For the bedroom watcher
Key strengths: 8″ larger screen size. Ultra-fine black panel.
Key strengths: Built-in DVD player. Room light adjustment.
Shared assets: Small, unobtrusive size.
The breakdown: A DVD player is handy to have for when games aren’t going on, and if you’re sharing the TV it may be a key way to get a TV for March Madness into the bedroom in the first place. However, 8″ of screen size is hard to ignore, especially when you’re lying back and keeping track of the scoreboard. The ultra-fine black panel on the TC-L32C3 also helps against glare for games happening earlier in the day.
Best flat screen TV Decision: TC-L32C3
For the BIG dance
Key strengths: Big screen
Key strengths: 16-channel sound bar. Greater range of picture technology.
Shared assets: 6-color processor. Best 3D panels available.
The Breakdown: Let’s face it, when you’re watching the Big Dance, you expect it to be. . . well, big. There’s no better place to go for big than Mitsubishi’s DLP lines. While they might not be as low profile as non-projection flat screens, it’s hard to deny they still look good. While it might seem to be an easy call between two series, size for price can play a big role. However, a 16-channel sound bar built right into the 73″ WD73840 easily makes up for a whopping 9″ of screen size (especially as the day goes on, and you’re listening more than watching).
Best DLP TV decision: Mitsubishi WD73840
For the home theater room purist
Key strengths: Infinite Black 2 panel. Wi-Fi dongle included.
Key strengths: Room light adjustment. Magic Remote.
Shared assets: 600Hz picture processing. Deep color reproduction.
The Breakdown: When the mayhem of March is over, your TV will be going back to its primary duties: great cinema. There’s nothing better for true color reproduction than a good plasma, but both also do well with fast action thanks to incredibly fast refresh rates. While automatic room-light adjustment can be a huge boon, Panasonic has stolen many hearts with their Infinite Black 2 panel.
The best flat screen TV Decision: Panasonic TCP60GT30
For the social sports fan
Key strengths: Webcam with voice and gesture control.
Key strengths: Passive 3D. Two-player/same-screen gaming mode.
Share assets: Smart TV technology with a wide array of apps for streaming. Built-in Wi-Fi.
The Breakdown: Watching the games is great, but let’s face it — unless you’re sharing in the victories and defeats with others, it’s kind of an empty exercise. Both brand new, the Samsung and LG combine advanced online capabilities with incredible picture. LG comes in strong with Passive 3D, and an amazing game mode that lets two players play games on the same screen without being able to see the others (no more screen stalking). However, Samsung’s built-in webcam, and voice control, put it well ahead of the pack for the social experience.
The best flat screen TV Decision: Samsung 46ES7500.
Does your flat screen TV bracket look different from this one? Let me know in the comments!